The Houston Family Law Blog

How to Adopt a Child Abroad

In 2012, Texas had the most adoptions finalized abroad, according to the U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues.

But how does international adoption, called "intercountry adoption," work exactly?

Intercountry adoptions involve two major steps: adoption and immigration.

Adoption from Hague Convention Countries

The U.S. is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention which provides safeguards and standards above those of a given country's own adoption laws. The provisions are designed to protect the best interests of the child.

When adopting a child from a Hague Convention country, the adoptive parent(s) must find a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider and complete all Hague Convention requirements under the guidance of the adoption service provider.

The distinguishing characteristic of Hague Convention adoptions is that you cannot choose a specific child. Instead, the Central Authority of the child's country will match you with a child and provide you with information about the child. You are then given time to accept or decline the adoption.

Special Circumstances

There are certain situations when the Hague Convention doesn't apply, even when the child is from a Hague Convention country.

First, if you don't regularly reside in the U.S. or the child doesn't regularly reside in a Hague Convention country, you may not be subject to Convention requirements.

Generally, U.S. permanent residents must comply with Convention requirements just like a U.S. citizen. However, a U.S. permanent resident may ignore the Hague Convention when he or she has the same citizenship as the child because it's no longer an intercountry adoption -- only the laws of the mutual country of citizenship will apply.

Even in those cases, however, permanent residents are encouraged to become U.S. citizens before starting the adoption process. If not, the child cannot receive immigration benefits provided by the Convention and may face additional hurdles and a lengthier process because of immigration issues.

Adoption from Non-Hague Convention Countries

If the potential adoptee is from a non-Hague Convention country, then the Convention's rules do not apply. Instead, the adoption must comply with the laws of the child's country.

The immigration requirements in these situations will depend on whether the child qualifies as an orphan under U.S. law.

For additional help, you may want to consult a family lawyer to go over the nuts and bolts of the adoption process.

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